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This winter, blonds are going blonder and brunets are getting darker

Single-process or solid color with subtle tones gives hair color added dimension and are easier on the budget than highlights.

December 06, 2009|By Alexandra Drosu
  • Hair stylist Stuart Gavert -- whose celebrity roster includes "90210's AnnaLynn McCord -- creates a soft, golden glow on his light blond clients.
Hair stylist Stuart Gavert -- whose celebrity roster includes "90210's… (Nina Prommer / EPA )

The forecast for snowfall in Los Angeles may be remote, but you can expect to see frosty weather reflected in hair color instead.

"Winter whites and snowy blonds are in style this season," says Clay Patane, owner of the Loft Hair Lounge in Eagle Rock. "It's as if [women] want to brighten their hair color as a means to shine away the bleak economy."

Brunets, by contrast, are embracing richness through deeper, darker shades in lush caramels and warm chocolates. In general, color is a great way to revive dull, sun-damaged hair, plus added shine makes locks look party-worthy during the holiday season.

"We're seeing the slow death of highlights," says Stuart Gavert of Gavert Atelier in Beverly Hills. Instead of highlights, single-process or solid color combined with subtle tones gives hair color added dimension without obvious streaks. Plus, Gavert adds, single-process color requires less upkeep than highlights -- perfect for budget-conscious clients.

A consultation with a colorist can help you determine the right color to suit your skin tone, but it's always a good idea to bring in pictures of the look you want (the more, the better) to ensure the best results. Describe what you like about the image so the colorist can really understand what you want to achieve. It may be the color, technique or both. Salon colorists can also add depth and dimension to single-process color that is more difficult to achieve at home.

Added depth with balayage

Lea Journo of Lea Journo Salon, who tends to the tresses of Portia de Rossi, likes to use a technique called balayage, in which color is painted onto dry hair to avoid distinctive foil lines. Applying multiple shades creates texture and subtle hints of depth. Another technique favored by Reyad Fritas, lead colorist at the Frédéric Fekkai Salon, adds subtle dimension to color by applying highlights to wet hair. The water on the hair shaft dilutes the dye to create a more natural effect, reducing damage to the hair. Gavert creates a soft, golden glow on his light blond clients -- such as "90210's" AnnaLynne McCord -- using underlights, painting on a copper- or sand-colored shade directly underneath foils.

If a salon visit strains your wallet, most experts agree you can achieve good results with single-process color at home. Regardless of fashion trends, the key to great hair color is determining what looks best on you, and experts agree that finding the right shade is the biggest hurdle.

Marco Pelusi of Marco Pelusi Salon offers this tip: Take two pieces of fabric -- one silver, one gold -- and place them on either side of your face. If the silver looks better on you, you should stick to cooler shades such as dark browns, bright, cool reds and light, ashy blonds. If you look best in gold, choose warmer shades -- coppers, golds and chocolates. Also, consider your age when determining shades, especially if you're over 40. Going too light can wash out features, while going too dark can make the face look too harsh.

Fritas suggests using your eye color as a guide. While blue eyes can go with any shade, brown-eyed women going darker should choose one shade deeper than their eye color. Also, stay within one to two levels of your natural hue to avoid color mishaps. Indoor lighting can cast blue or green light onto hair, making it hard to identify your natural shade, so evaluate hair with a mirror outside. Lastly, don't match your hair color to your skin tone, Patane says: "It washes out the whole canvas."

Select an ammonia-free, demi-permanent hair color such as Natural Instincts by Clairol ($9.99;, Gavert says. Demi-permanent formulations do not lighten or strip hair, instead depositing richness and tone for a more natural look that fades gradually. Also, keep in mind that natural-looking color is darker at the roots than the ends. "For best results, apply color only to the roots," Journo says. Apply the remainder of the dye through to the ends during the last three minutes of processing time.

Keep the color going

To preserve your color longer, use a specially formulated shampoo, such as Rene Furterer Okara Protect Color Radiance Shampoo ($23;, and avoid products containing harsh sulfates that can strip color. Blonds should try a product such as L'Oréal Colorist Collection White Violet Shampoo and conditioner ($16.99;, which prevents brassiness and maintains brightness for pale- and white-blond hair.

Also, salon gloss or glaze treatments can extend color between visits and give hair added shine. Gavert uses Wella Relights at his salon to give locks a silky shine that helps keep color more vibrant and adds up to four additional weeks between hair color visits. For similar results at home, try Fekkai Salon Glaze ($28 for 5 ounces;

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